VATICAN CITY, NOV 6, 2003 (VIS) - Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Holy See Press Office, made the following declaration yesterday afternoon at the end of the Holy Father's audience with Vladimir V. Putin, president of the Russian Federation:
'This afternoon the Holy Father received Vladimir V. Putin, president of the Russian Federation. The meeting, which was very cordial, lasted 30 minutes. The Holy Father asked that the icon of Our Lady of Kazan be kept in the room and he showed it to President Putin.'
Navarro-Valls then quoted Putin in reference to his last visit with the Pope: 'Although three years have gone by, it seems like yesterday.'
'During the conversation, topics of mutual interest were reviewed, specifically Catholics in Russia and their ecclesiastical structures. Both parties expressed hope for a positive development in the dialogue between the Holy See and the Patriarchate of Moscow.
'On international issues there was an exchange of opinions on the conflict in the Holy Land and on the Iraqi question.
'At the same time, Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano met with Igor Ivanov, minister of Foreign Affairs, and other ministers in the entourage. During their conversation, they exchanged opinions on the situation of ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox. They then examined the new initiatives for peace in the Holy Land and in Iraq.'
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